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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Setup of Qatar Visa Centers to Benefit Migrant Workers


Wazzup Pilipinas!

I was called upon by the Second Secretary of the Qatar Embassy to discuss about the setup of Visa Centers to benefit migrant workers. This was quite thrilling since my last encounter with expats was when I worked for the United Nations as their ICT Officer which gave me a working environment were most are expats coming from different countries like the USA, Myanmar, Korea, Australia and many other countries. I even thought they were summoning me because we were already about to go to Qatar for a fam or media tour. They mentioned the idea a few months ago so I was actually eager to pack my bags and visit their country. Hopefully that would materialize soon.

For now, we talk about the Visa Centers and how they would benefit migrant workers. The locations of the Visa Centers were carefully selected in terms of availability of general transportation and services within the vicinity to ensure the workers convenience and comfort. I believe this is a very important deciding factor since a far-flung Visa center would be a terrible service as the workers would have to spend more in transportation.

Aside from ensuring the rights of the said Migrant workers by documenting the contracts they agreed on, including the sated provisions, before leaving the country, this action will minimize the stories of exploitation that some employers and intermediaries may wrongly practice.

The Visa Centers would also ensure that the applicants will not pay additional amounts or fees other than the standard or required recruitment process fees. There are just some unscrupulous individuals who would try to victimize eager applicants for extra money. The Visa Centers would also help returning workers to their countries if accrued that they are not qualified to obtain a residence permit in the state of Qatar. The facilitation of the recruitment process will be more convenient as all required procedures will be completed by the worker in their country  as one of the legal requirements of entering the state of Qatar and obtaining a residence permit. This includes signing of work contracts, medical examinations, fingerprinting and the processing of other vital data.

All these will allow the workers to approach their jobs immediately after entering the country and they will be entitled to get their wages directly.

These initatives had prompted the International Labour Organization (ILO) to commend the State of Qatar for such actions. The ILO Board of Directors has praised the important legislative achievements and reforms adopted by the State of Qatar in its ongoing efforts to  to protect the rights of expatriate workers. To be specific, the commended reforms were the abolition of the exit visas, the establishment of a Workers' Support Fund, the establishment of joint labor committees, and the study of a minimum wage.

The ILO Board Members also welcomed the constructive cooperation and partnerships undertatken by the Qatar government to support efforts to implement reforms with a number of governments including the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, as well as social partners represented by the Employers' Organization, the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers and the International Transport Workers' Federation.

Mohammed Hassan Al Obaidly, Assistant Secretary for Labor Affairs at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, said that Qatar is willing to ensure a productive working environment for all parties of the work system in compliance with international labor standards and ratified conventions, and to ensure all partners to provide a safe working environment and protecting the rights and interests of all production parties.

The Assistant Secretary also expressed his thanks and appreciation to the partners of friendly governments and employers and workers' organizations for their support to the efforts of Qatar and ILO in achieving the activities and objectives of the Technical Cooperation Program.

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